Balancing the roles of optometrist, new mother and business owner
By Kristy Erdodi
Four months ago, Dr. Roxanna Potter became a new mother. She has faced many challenges as owner of Personal Eyecare in Sylvania, and she admits that this was one of the toughest—juggling becoming a mother with serving as an optometrist and running her eye care practice. But she succeeded in finding a balance. She worked on her business taxes and payroll while in the hospital. When she got out, she hired an associate doctor to take over for her every Friday, so she can spend time at home. And so, this family-oriented woman continues building her family-oriented practice.
Dr. Potter’s career actually began in part because of family. Her mother was a nurse and always had interesting stories about taking care of people. Dr. Potter wanted to follow in her footsteps and help people, as well. “I went into optometry because I wanted to take care of patients, but I didn’t have the time or the finances to go to medical school proper,” she said. “So I looked into different subspecialties and ended up being fascinated with eyes and vision.” After optometry school, Dr. Potter met Dr. Carol Brown, who owned Personal Eyecare, during a one-year residency. Dr. Potter worked with Dr. Brown for a year in 2007 and then bought her out in 2008 when she moved to California.
Upon purchasing the practice, Dr. Potter had little business training. This was the first challenge she needed to overcome as a business owner. Luckily, she says most of what goes into running a business is pretty intuitive. “It’s just learning the terms and getting used to managing staff—those are the real challenges, I think,” she said.
The practice’s location in Sylvania’s Mayberry USA also presented a challenge. “I bought the practice in 2008, which was right when the economy collapsed,” she said. Neighboring office buildings that were supposed to become populated did not. But Dr. Potter has hope that as the economy picks up, so will the local business community, increasing the flow of people in and around the area. “There’s really no other direction for Sylvania to grow, so we’re just waiting now,” she joked.
Although Personal Eyecare’s Sylvania neighborhood may not be developing as quickly as Dr. Potter wishes, her business is. Personal Eyecare focuses on convenience, for those who simply want to come in and purchase glasses or contacts and also on medical services, for those needing treatment for glaucoma, injuries, infections or other issues. It also offers InfantSee, a nationwide program by which optometrists voluntarily provide free eye exams for infants under the age of one. The program, initiated by Jimmy Carter and overseen by the American Optometric Association, helps to rule out many of the main causes of childhood blindness.
Dr. Potter suggests that people of all ages get their eyes checked regularly, starting young. Sometimes, children may exhibit warning signs of potential eye problems. These may range from a child rubbing their eyes, to having a lot of eye discharge or not enjoying reading. “I think a lot of kids are diagnosed with things like ADHD or dyslexia, when it’s possible they just have a simple eye problem that wasn’t addressed,” said Dr. Potter. “Anything suspicious is worth a check.”
But regardless of whether warning signs are there, Dr. Potter suggests getting infants checked between the ages of 6 months to a year, then again around the age of three and then before school starts. “You could think everything’s okay and have no idea,” she said. “If one eye’s working and the other’s not, they can still see, so parents and school screenings often miss problems with lazy eyes or eye coordination.”
In order to properly take care of the families that come to Personal Eyecare, Dr. Potter makes it a point to stay on top of trends, both in fashion and technology. From a fashion standpoint, in addition to her more classic product offerings, Dr. Potter provides trendy options. “Big is in again, so we’re going big and bold this year,” she said of her glasses line. From a technological standpoint, the Personal Eyecare team is required to participate in continuing education every year, and Dr. Potter offers her staff incentives to go even beyond that. “I have licensed opticians who are trained to watch developments in technology and style,” she said. Her team switched to electronic records this year, in yet another effort to stay in front of technology.
As Dr. Potter continues to balance her business and her family, she encourages any working woman thinking about creating a family of her own to do so: “I waited a few years thinking there would be a better time, but as your business gets busier there just isn’t a good time,” she said. “So if you want to do it, just do it and fly with it.” Dr. Potter will continue to “fly with it” as she further develops relationships with both the families that she treats and the new family that encompasses her.
If you have found this story to be interesting, informative or inspiring, please let Dr. Potter know! You can contact her at 419-885-5300; visit Personal Eyecare at 8254 Mayberry Square North, Sylvania; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the website at www.personaleyecare.com.